Engineering College at SDSU

30 November 2017

Engineering College at SDSU

Engineering at SDSU: A Model of Engagement and Innovation
Lewis F. Brown, Ph.D., Dean
Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering

Engineering has been viewed as essential to the growth and prosperity of our nation since even before it achieved independence from England.  George Washington called on engineers to help win the war and for engineering education to be a fundamental building block for the new nation.  SDSU’s engineering college has been serving Brookings and the region since before South Dakota achieved statehood.  Today our college offers nine relevant undergraduate majors, 15 graduate degrees, and more than a dozen minors as a means to meet the social, economic, and workforce needs of our city, state, and region. 

Today’s graduates from our engineering college complete a one-year team design experience in their senior year called Senior Design I/II.  Teams of 2-4 students are challenged with solving a real-world problem which is typically posed and sponsored by a local or regional company.  The students call on all of their previous education and technical innovation to design a solution, build it and demonstrate it to their professors, sponsoring company and the public.  This capstone experience closely emulates what graduates will face in employment.  This way of working with our local/regional employers keeps us engaged and cognizant of both their technical innovation needs and workforce requirements. 

Our college has never been more engaged with its regional employers than today.  Each academic department has an industrial advisory board comprised of working professionals selected from our regional employers.  The members regularly engage in discussions with our academic departments to ensure we continue to meet the workforce needs of our employers. 

In recent years, the college has also become more engaged in collaborative partnerships with regional industry aimed at making use of our research enterprise to help solve some of the most pressing challenges of our industries.  The college has world-class faculty in a number of research disciplines of importance to Brookings and South Dakota.

The location of SDSU’s engineering college in Brookings, the middle of eastern South Dakota, is ideal as it provides (1) student internships within a reasonable commuting distance of the campus, (2) interactive relationships between our faculty and working professionals in industry, (3) faculty outreach and consulting opportunities that benefit local companies, (4) continuing education, special courses, workshops, and training as required by local and regional companies, (5) research aimed at solving challenges to our industries, and (6) partnerships with local and regional economic development groups for assisting our existing industry and attracting new industry to South Dakota. 

Hundreds of South Dakota K-12 students and teachers visit our engineering college each year for field trips, career fairs, science fairs, competitions, workshops, youth camps and other activities which inform them of STEM career opportunities.  These K-12 engagement activities help inspire the next generation of young people who will become our much-needed STEM workforce for our city and region. 

SDSU’s engineering college is a model of engagement and innovation that will remain essential to the economic advancement of Brookings and South Dakota.